Get your ow
n diary at! contact me older entries newest entry

16:02 - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009
mystery train
there is something wrong with wordpress today folks, so im publishing here!

Throughout Elvis' life he often reached out to help others. One way he did this was to perform benefit concerts for various charitable causes. One such occasion was Saturday, February 25, 1961, when Elvis headlined two concerts to benefit Memphis-area charities.

Governor of Tennessee, Buford Ellington proclaimed this date \"Elvis Presley Day\" in the state and made Elvis an honorary colonel by giving him the title \"Colonel, Aide de Camp on the Governor's Staff.\" Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb designated it \"Elvis Presley Day\" in the city.

Prior to the shows, a luncheon was held in Elvis' honor at the Claridge Hotel in downtown Memphis. The $100-per-plate event raised $17,200, thanks in part to the donation of food and service by the Claridge. At the luncheon RCA presented Elvis with a diamond watch and a plaque commemorating the sale of 75 million records thus far in his career. Numerous gold records and other awards were presented and/or displayed. After the luncheon a press conference was held. Following are just a few of the questions that were asked Elvis and the answers he gave:

Press: \"I'll have to apologize to you for this first question, but everybody wants to is your love life?\"

Elvis: \"(Laughs.) Well it hasn't progressed any. It's about like it was. Nothin' serious. I'll let you know if anything comes of it. Couldn't hide it anyway (laughs).\"

Press: \"Elvis, are you going to move to Hollywood eventually, or are you gonna stay here?\"

Elvis: \"No sir, I'll stay here.\"

Press: \"Which one of your movies do you think you did the best job acting?\"

Elvis: \"King Creole.\"

Press: \"You haven't been on stage for three years, are you a little bit nervous?\"

Elvis: \"Yes sir. I don't mind admittin' I am. But when I did the Frank Sinatra show in Florida, I wasn't nervous... I was petrified! I was scared stiff. (Laughter.)\"

(Note: Elvis had been serving two years in the U.S. Army and, upon his return, had gone back to recording and making movies. Thus the three-year absence from the concert stage if one doesn�t count the taping of the Sinatra special in 1960.)

Elvis went on that day to perform at 3:00 PM and at 8:30 PM in the Ellis Auditorium's North Hall. Tickets cost $3.00 each. George Jessell, often referred to as the nation's \"Toastmaster General,\" was the master of ceremonies. He introduced Elvis as \"one of the greatest singer-actors of this century.\"

Also appearing were comedian Dave Gardner, impressionist Nip Nelson, acrobats The Ashtons & Shirley, tap dancer Frank Trent, and Larry Owens and his orchestra. Joining the orchestra to back Elvis were Scotty Moore, D. J. Fontana, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, and the Jordanaires.

The days events raised a total of $51,612 for twenty-six Memphis charities and the Tupelo, Mississippi Youth Center. Elvis would appear in concert once more that year � a March show at Bloch Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii to raise funds for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the World War II monument at Pearl Harbor. After that, movies and recordings would dominate his career and he would not perform live in concert again until the taping of his first television special in June 1968.
Train I ride,
Coaches long
Train I ride,
Coaches long
Well, that long black train
Carry my baby and gone.
�Mystery Train
As the legend goes, Elvis Presley had only a year's passing familiarity with a recording studio when he cut that record in the winter of 1955. He had wandered into Sun Records with his guitar, two summers before, plunked down $4 to sing a couple of tunes to his mother, Gladys, and left carrying a 10-in. acetate for her birthday present. Sun Secretary Marion Keisker heard a mean, lowdown sweetness in the baritone voice, made a tape of the session and played it back later for her boss, Sam Phillips. He had been looking for a \"black sound inside a white boy\" to make Sun Records a national mark way beyond Memphis.
Phillips listened, thought about Presley, took his time making a decision. There was no rush. Presley, then 18, was pulling down $35 a week as a truck driver for the Crown Electric Co. About the only audience who knew him were his high school classmates who had watched, stunned, as their shy schoolmate hot-wired a class amateur show. Finally, Phillips called Presley back into the studio, a year after he had left with his gift for Gladys. That marked the last time in his life things would go slowly for Elvis Presley.
A song that came out of those first sessions, That's All Right, Mama, became a substantial local hit. So did the next four singles. By the time the last, Mystery Train, was released, Presley had connected with a deadeye promoter named Colonel Tom Parker, who landed him a national contract with RCA Records for the outlandish sum of $35,000. In the winter of 1956, not six months after Mystery Train came out, Elvis Presley released Heartbreak Hotel and sent American popular culture into a collective delirium that came, after a while, to be called \"the Rock Era.\"
Time passed to a heavy back beat. In a giddy blur, Presley went on the Ed Sullivan Show, intimidated the adults of America and drove their kids into a frenzy. Parents said Elvis was suggestive, lewd, a greaser. To kids that was just the point. Elvis reveled in his performances. He used his music as an open invitation to release, and kids took him up on it.
He inspired scores of imitators, sold millions of records. He got drafted into the Army, got his infamous D.A. and 'burns clipped, served a tour of duty in Germany, sold millions of records. He went to Hollywood, appeared in 33 movies, sold millions of records. He played Vegas, got married, filled amphitheaters, got divorced, lived a gaudy life so high and wide that it seemed like a parody of an American success story. And he kept selling records, well over 500 million in all. The music got slicker and often sillier, turned from rock toward rhinestone country and spangled gospel. Only the pace remained the same. Elvis Aron Presley always lived fast, and on August 16th,1977, at the age of 42, that was the way he died.
He was found lying on the bathroom floor in the afternoon. All attempts to revive him failed. Presley had died of \"cardiac arrythmia\" �a severely irregular heartbeat�brought about by \"undetermined causes.\" Doctors said there was \"no evidence of any illegal drug use,\" although a new book co-authored by three former Presley bodyguards maintains that \"E\" consumed uppers, downers and a variety of narcotic cough medicines, all obtained by prescription. He also was wrestling halfheartedly with a fearful weight problem and was suffering from a variety of other ailments like hypertension, eye trouble and a twisted colon.
So the legend goes: nothing kills America's culture heroes as quickly and surely as success. Presley burnt himself out, as if on schedule. He had been thirsty for glory. Born in Tupelo, Miss., he was a surviving twin, (Jesse Garon, his brother, died at birth) whose parents scraped along on odd jobs until the family moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13. He was fanatically and unabashedly devoted to his mother. He was buried near her after the kind of awful, agonized public wake that attended the passing of Rudolph Valentino and Judy Garland. Eighty thousand fans jammed the street outside his Memphis mansion, Graceland, hoping for a view of the body; 30,000 were admitted to the house. Dozens swooned, cried, keened and passed out from the heat outside the mansion gates. Two people were killed when a drunken driver plowed into the crowd. After the funeral at Graceland, a cortege of 16 white Cadillacs led a slow procession down Elvis Presley Boulevard to the cemetery. There the lawn was banked with some 2,200 floral tributes � an imperial crown of golden mums, hortisculptured hound-dogs and guitars, sunflowers in wine bottles. Memphis ran out of flowers; reinforcements were sent in from California and Colorado.
Rock stars�all Presley stepkids in one way or another�paid him tribute. \"I am very sad,\" said Rod Stewart. \"His death is a great loss to rock 'n' roll.\" Said Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys: \"His music was a great inspiration to us. His personality was a great inspiration to us. He was a fine gentleman.\" Meanwhile, radio stations canceled regular programming and even commercials to play lengthy homage to the fallen king. In Boston a fan lent his own Presley collection to fill the gaps in one station's library. Outside the Las Vegas Hilton, the flag was lowered to half-mast. Instant cottage industries in Elvis T-shirts blossomed. Stores everywhere sold out of Presley records, as if one spin on the turntable would keep him alive forever.
In a sense, of course, it will. Presley was not, as he has so often been called, \"the father of rock 'n' roll,\" but he was the first to consolidate all its divergent roots into a single, surly, hard-driving style. Rock had its origins deep in rhythm and blues, which, in a time of strict musical segregation, was black music all the way. Presley gave rock and blues a gloss of country-and-western and a rockabilly beat, but he preserved the undertones of insinuating sexuality, accentuated rock's and blues' rough edges of danger from the sharp beat to the streetwise lyrics. \"It was like a giant wedding ceremony,\" Marion Keisker said later, \"like two feuding clans who had been brought together by marriage.\"
Those early Sun sides, typified by the wonderfully spooky, smoky Mystery Train, were arguably the best music Elvis ever made. The more familiar songs, like Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog and Don't Be Cruel are great tunes, joyful and sassy. They have become cultural artifacts, but no amount of historical respectability can fully dim their raucous vitality. They also represent a high point. Only four or five years after they came out, Presley's music had virtually become a patented mixture of heavy breathing and hokum.
After his Army hitch, and under the guidance of Colonel Parker, Elvis' new music was confined largely to sanctimonious spirituals and sound-track ditties off the string of brain-rotting movies he turned out, sometimes at the rate of three a year. At first, the movies�like Jailhouse Rock�tried for a little of the defiance and vitality Elvis got in his music, but such ambitions were quickly forsaken for formula. Elvis beefed about the scripts, which he once contemptuously dismissed as \"travelogues,\" but Parker could point to the fact that each of the movies turned a profit�often a handsome one�and that the sound track from one of these travelogues, Blue Hawaii, was Presley's bestselling album ever. The Colonel was constantly nudging Presley away from rock, stuffing him into an entertainment package that offered a little something for everyone. Audiences stayed loyal, and Presley earned millions each year. No matter that with the coming of the Beatles a lot of rockers deserted him. Elvis had already set their style.
It was style as much as the songs he sang that made Elvis Presley such an immediate, and ultimately irreplaceable, phenomenon. Initially, it was all a matter of attitude, the low lids, the lip that curled up like a whitecap before breaking on the beach, the musky voice that seemed to take its honey coating from a lot of scruffy worldliness and its distinct throb from straight below the waist. His first appearances were small Pop cataclysms. The sensuous movements that headline writers called \"gyrations\" and that earned Presley nicknames he did not like�Swivel Hips, the Pelvis�had their roots in roistering responses of some fundamentalist congregations.
Offstage his deferential manner toward adults, his shy country-boy come-on to women, made him seem, whatever heights of fame he achieved, strictly and forever down home. He defined himself, as Critic Greil Marcus points out in an excellent Presley essay, \"by presenting his authentic multiplicity. I am, he announced, a house rocker, a boy steeped in mother-love, a true son of the church, a matinee idol who's only kidding, a man with too many rough edges for anyone ever to smooth away. Something in me yearns for a settling of affairs, he said with his pale music and his tired movies; on the other hand, he answered with his rock 'n' roll and occasional blues, I may break away at any time.\"
He never did. Not really. His later stage shows were full of intentional self-parody; he took to telling audiences \"this lip used to curl easier.\" Of late he made his entrance at concerts to the thundering strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra. He could still rock out when he wanted to cut loose with a fine, jagged version of Hound Dog, but he seemed increasingly bored with his music and more absorbed in the lavish trappings of his own celebrity.
In the first flush of his success, Elvis lived with the crazy vigor of a good ole boy who just had the whole world tucked snugly into the back pocket of his overalls. He surrounded himself with home-town cronies, kept them fed and cared for, dispensed lavish gifts. He gave away luxury cars�particularly the Cadillacs he doted on�like gumdrops. After a while, though, the cronies became heavies�bodyguards, procurers�and the gifts bribes to buy loyalty, or silence. He courted a girl, Priscilla Beaulieu, he had met during his Army hitch. He persuaded her father to let her come over from Germany to live and, when he got out of the Army, to go to school in Memphis. She was not yet 15 when they met. They got married when she was 21, and a year later, in 1968, they had a daughter. After that, Elvis spent a lot of time away from her until they divorced in 1973. Presley became reclusive, paranoid. He immured himself among roomfuls of flamboyant furniture in Graceland. He took up karate, amassed a vast collection of guns and police badges and, according to the trio of tattletale bodyguards, would travel not only with a brace of handguns but such heavy armaments as a Thompson submachine gun and an M-16 rifle.
Earlier, he had rented a Memphis movie theater and a roller rink for afterhours amusement. As time moved on, his only forays out into the real world were concert tours that were carefully insulated. The routine was usually the same: private plane to private limo to back entrance of hotel to specially cleared elevator to penthouse suite; then, after a while, off to the concert, onto the stage, back to the hotel, then to the airport. Reality never intruded, except when the schedule faltered. In a 1972 documentary, Elvis on Tour, there is a quick scene of Elvis, stranded on an airport runway, waiting for the gangway of his private plane to roll out. He is caught in the glare of sunlight, and he looks up in the sky with startled curiosity, as if surveying an alien planet.
The world he left behind so quickly had still not quite recovered from the changes he brought down on it. In England, the punk rockers who are raising such a ruckus, spooking the music business and intimidating their elders, turn themselves out just like the Elvis of the '50s, in tight pants and defensive snarls. Their unadorned, assaultive music tries for the same fierce simplicity Elvis seemed to achieve so effortlessly. Back in Memphis, hysteria prevailed. Guards were posted outside the mausoleum to keep fans and fanatics from laying waste to the burial grounds. There were to be fresh shipments of Elvis records, re-releases of the old movies, TV retrospectives. Presley mourners talked about trying to reach his spirit through seances.
Later on, for security reasons, and because of threats of people wanting to steal his body, Elvis and his mother were moved onto the grounds of graceland, and were reinterred there in the Meditation Garden.
So the legend goes. And grows. From out of the barrage of funeral images, from the fragmented memory of dozens of Presley lyrics, one reaches for a single last memory, searches for an epitaph. Go way back, to another of those early Sun records and there is one that seems particularly appropriate. \"Well,\" Elvis starts off, in a wild, raw drawl, then rushes into the verse:
I heard the news
There's good rockin' tonight
Now there is, for everyone. Elvis saw to that.

previous - next

about me - read my profile! read other Diar
yLand diaries! recommend my diary to a friend! Get
 your own fun + free diary at!